In Afghanistan, young Amir’s earliest memories of life in Kabul are blessed with a cultural heritage that values tradition, blood ties and a deeply rooted cultural identity. With a well known rich father, Amir enjoys the luxury of education, material comfort and a constant playmate, the son of his father’s long time Hazara servant, Hassan. Twice in his lifetime Amir is tested in his relationship with Hassan. The first time Amir fails his companion. Hiding behind the superiority of class, Amir chooses not to speak out for his friend, but the scar of betrayal cuts through his soul and never heals.
That first failure influences Amir throughout his life, even in America, until he is offered another chance at personal redemption. Returned to his homeland at the request of an old family friend, the second challenge is equally perilous, and Amir recognizes the possible repercussions of his decision. I find myself confounded with admiration at the end of such a pleasant reading journey. A gripping tale that would rip your heart in pieces – a thousand times over. You have got to read the book to understand how haunting the phrase “a thousand times over” can be.
Assef, a notoriously mean and violent older boy with sadistic tendencies, blames Amir for socializing with a Hazara, according to Assef an inferior race that should only live in Hazarajat. He prepares to attack Amir with his steel knuckles, but Hassan bravely stands up to him, threatening to shoot Assef in the eye with his slingshot. Assef and his henchmen back off, but Assef says he will take revenge. Hassan is a successful “kite runner” for Amir, knowing where the kite will land without even watching it.
One triumphant day, Amir wins the local tournament, and finally Baba’s praise. Hassan goes to run the last cut kite, a great trophy, for Amir saying “For you, a thousand times over. ” Unfortunately, Hassan runs into Assef and his two henchmen. Hassan refuses to give up Amir’s kite, so Assef exacts his revenge, assaulting and raping him. Wondering why Hassan is taking so long, Amir searches for Hassan and hides when he hears Assef’s voice. He witnesses the rape but is too scared to help him. Afterwards, for some time Hassan and Amir keep a distance from each other.
Amir reacts indifferently because he feels ashamed, and is frustrated by Hassan’s saint-like behavior. Already jealous of Baba’s love for Hassan, he worries if Baba knew how bravely Hassan defended Amir’s kite, and how cowardly Amir acted, that Baba’s love for Hassan would grow even more. To force Hassan to leave, Amir frames him as a thief, and Hassan falsely confesses. Baba forgives him, despite the fact that, as he explained earlier, he believes that “there is no act more wretched than stealing. ” Hassan and his father Ali, to Baba’s extreme sorrow, leave anyway.
Hassan’s departure frees Amir of the daily reminder of his cowardice and betrayal, but he still lives in their shadow and his guilt. Five years later, the Russians invade Afghanistan; Amir and Baba escape to Peshawar, Pakistan and then to Fremont, California, where Amir and Baba, who lived in luxury in an expansive mansion in Afghanistan, settle in a run-down apartment and Baba begins work at a gas station. Amir eventually takes classes at a local community college to develop his writing skills. Every Sunday, Baba and Amir make extra money selling used goods at a flea market in San Jose.
There, Amir meets fellow refugee Soraya Taheri and her family; Soraya’s father, who was a high-ranking officer in Afghanistan, has contempt of Amir’s literary aspiration. Baba is diagnosed with terminal oat cell carcinoma but is still capable of granting Amir one last favor: he asks Soraya’s father’s permission for Amir to marry her. He agrees and the two marry. Shortly thereafter Baba dies. Amir and Soraya learn that they cannot have children. Amir embarks on a successful career as a novelist. Fifteen years after his wedding, Amir receives a call from Rahim Khan, who is dying from an illness.
Rahim Khan asks Amir to come to Pakistan. He enigmatically tells Amir “there is a way to be good again. ” Amir goes. From Rahim Khan, Amir learns the fates of Ali and Hassan. Ali was killed by a land mine. Hassan had a wife and a son, named Sohrab, and had returned to Baba’s house as a caretaker at Rahim Khan’s request. One day the Taliban ordered him to give it up and leave, but he refused, and was murdered, along with his wife. Rahim Khan reveals that Ali was not really Hassan’s father. Hassan was actually the son of Baba, therefore Amir’s half-brother.
Finally, Rahim Khan tells Amir that the true reason he has called Amir to Pakistan is to go to Kabul to rescue Hassan’s son, Sohrab, from an orphanage. Amir returns to Taliban-controlled Kabul with a guide, Farid, and searches for Sohrab at the orphanage. In order to enter Taliban territory, Amir, who is normally clean shaven, dons a fake beard and mustache, because otherwise the Taliban would exact Shariah punishment against him. However, he does not find Sohrab where he was supposed to be: the director of the orphanage tells them that a Taliban official comes ften, brings cash and usually takes a girl back with him. Once in a while however, he takes a boy, recently Sohrab. The director tells Amir to go to a soccer match and the man “who does the speeches” is the man who took Sohrab. Farid manages to secure an appointment with the speaker at his home, by saying that he and Amir have “personal business” with him. At the house, Amir has his meeting with the man in sunglasses,who says the man who does the speeches is not available,. The man in sunglasses is eventually revealed to be his childhood nemesis, Assef.
Assef is aware of Amir’s identity from the very beginning, but Amir doesn’t realize who he’s sitting across from until Assef starts asking about Ali, Baba and Hassan. Sohrab is being kept at the home where he is made to dance dressed in women’s clothes, and it seems Assef might have been sexually assaulting him. (Sohrab later says, “I’m so dirty and full of sin. The bad man and the other two did things to me. “) Assef agrees to relinquish him, but only for a price – cruelly beating Amir. However, Amir is saved when Sohrab uses his slingshot to shoot out Assef’s left eye, fulfilling the threat his father had made many years before.
The adult Amir is challenged as never before, charged with the protection of a young life already scarred by the random violence visited upon the disenfranchised. With inordinate compassion and stunning simplicity, Hosseini portrays Amir’s impossible dilemma. Complications abound, but the answer lies in humanity’s capacity for kindness. The grace of acceptance heals the wounds of brutality, for with forgiveness anything is possible, even the wild joy of soaring kites against a winter sky. Amir tells Sohrab of his plans to take him back to America and possibly adopt him, and promises that he will never be sent to an orphanage again.
After almost having to break that promise (after decades of war, paperwork documenting Sohrab’s orphan status, as demanded by the US authorities, is impossible to get) and Sohrab attempting suicide, Amir manages to take him back to the United States and introduces him to his wife. However, Sohrab is emotionally damaged and refuses to speak or even glance at Soraya. This continues until his frozen emotions are thawed when Amir reminisces about his father, Hassan, while kite flying. Amir shows off some of Hassan’s tricks, and Sohrab begins to interact with Amir again. In the end Sohrab